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Industry focus The Xilinx software to program these instances is also available

As an example, the FireSim project at UC Berkeley uses F1 as a

in the AWS EC2 cloud. This includes the Xilinx SDAccel tools

hardware/software co-design environment and simulation

which software programmers can use to build designs for F1

platform for the open-source warehouse scale computing research

instances using OpenCL. More experienced hardware developers

based on the RocketChip RISC-V. Hardware teams in one or more

have the option of building kernels using hardware description

locations can make modifications to a prototype that can be

languages or high-level synthesis tools. Full debug and verification

made available for software developers around the world to test

can be carried out on designs running on a remote instance.

and simulate.

Applications running on an F1 instance can also be integrated with over 100 other AWS cloud services, providing developers

Hardware developers can choose how much of the lower-level

with an ecosystem across the spectrum of high-performance

hardware detail to expose to the end user – if any. A top-level


software API can be provided which treats the FPGA as a black box, with no specific domain knowledge of FPGAs required to

FPGAs-as-a-Service offers a series of benefits both for industry

take advantage of acceleration.

and academia, as described below.

Academia Educators can provide access to leading-edge customizable hardware in their classes, ranging from a small numbers of

FireSim lowers the barrier to entry, making it easier for everyone to leverage the power of the FPGA-accelerated compute environment for RocketChip development research in this area.

projects to classroom teaching where each student has access to


their own F1 instance. Hardware and software updates are

A number of companies in Europe have already launched based

managed automatically by AWS.

on the FPGAs-as-a-service model.

The AWS platform is ideal for collaborative research and

Titan-IC, a spinout from Queen’s University in Belfast, provides

dissemination of results. A prototype or final system can be

hardware-accelerated regular expression processing engines for

shared with anyone around the world instantly, and researchers

security applications. The service can also be integrated with the full

can be sure that they are working on an identical infrastructure

range of additional AWS services.

to their remote colleagues. All partners can access as many provides tools to program FPGAs in the GO language

instances of a prototype for as much time as they require – no

which can then be deployed in the cloud. This simplifies the process

more waiting for boards to be delivered, time sharing of hardware,

of programming FPGAs by offering software developers a more

or travelling to the location with the only working system.

familiar design language. Xelera, a spinout from TU Darmstadt, develops novel datacentre processors on FPGAs that can operate much faster and with greater energy efficiency than traditional processor technology. InAccel, a start-up from Greece, provides hardware accelerators that can be deployed to the Amazon AWS cloud. Applications can be integrated to widely used frameworks like Apache Spark. Machine learning, financial algorithms and computationally intensive algorithms including compression, encryption and hashing are available as accelerators.

XUP Jumpstart Program The Xilinx University Program invites academics with software applications that would benefit from cloud acceleration to join the XUP AWS Jumpstart Program, which seeks to match hardware experts with software developers and domain experts who want to collaborate on high performance computing projects using F1 instances. For more information see or FireSim uses F1 as a HW/SW co-design environment and


simulation platform (Image credit: Sagar Karandikar)


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In this issue of the HiPEAC ( magazine, published to coinicide with May 2018 innovation-themed Computing Systems Week in Goth...

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In this issue of the HiPEAC ( magazine, published to coinicide with May 2018 innovation-themed Computing Systems Week in Goth...

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